NOLA has first White City Council in decades

Posted: 11/26/2007 01:50 PM EST

Posted Nov. 21, 2007 - Saturday’s City Council election in New Orleans offered perhaps the most vivid proof that the majority of the city’s Black folks have moved on.

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By the time the votes were tallied, the Council had been transformed – for the first time in two decades – into a majority White body.

Jacquelyn B. Clarkson, who is White, defeated the African-American candidate, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, by 53 percent to 47 percent, to claim the at-large Council seat.

The election was starkly divided along racial lines, and quite a few more Whites than Blacks voted.

Slightly more than 52,000 votes were cast in the election, substantially fewer than the 113,000 that were cast last March, when many African Americans voted absentee or returned to the hurricane-ravaged city via car pools and buses to vote for Black incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin.

 In the most recent election, Whites out-voted Blacks 29,700 to 22,900, The New York Times reports.

 In a flash, New Orleans became a much smaller, Whiter city.

Many African-American leaders in New Orleans and elsewhere had worried that Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in poor Black communities – coupled with the federal, state and local governments’ slowness in rebuilding the city – would result in a 180-degree demographic shift.

“It is somewhat disheartening,” Bill Rouselle, a veteran Black consultant, told the Times. “It’s an indication that a lot of people have given up hope. A lot of people feel abandoned.”

Said Gregory C. Rigamer, a demographic analyst, “I think many people have moved on. When Nagin referred to New Orleans as “Chocolate City,” in his highly publicized controversial comments last year, he was referring to the fact that African Americans have run things since the 1980s and that they comprised more then two-thirds of the city’s population before the hurricane.

The City Council wasn’t the only advances made by White candidates on Saturday.

They also took New Orleans’ two seats in the Louisiana Legislature, which had long been held by Blacks, and a state court judgeship that had also been occupied by a Black judge, according to the Times.

Do you think the city would have been rebuilt earlier if it was a largely White city that was destroyed?

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